About Maker (MKR)
Maker is the governance token of the Maker Protocol that manages the Dai stablecoin.
Maker was first described in a whitepaper published by MakerDAO, a Decentralized Autonomous Organization or DAO, in 2017. MakerDAO developed Dai, a crypto-collateralized stablecoin, and the Maker Protocol, the system of smart contracts that underpin Dai. Maker grants holders the ability to participate in the scientific governance of the Maker Protocol. Holders can vote on changes to the Maker Protocol and thereby manage the financial risks of Dai.
Maker (MKR) is built on Ethereum in accordance with the ERC20 standard for tokens. Its holders can vote on the following (among other things):
- New Collateral – Modify the Maker Protocol to accept a new asset for the purposes of creating and collateralizing Dai.
- Collateral Risk Parameters – Add or modify the risk parameters for an asset already accepted by the Maker Protocol as collateral for Dai.
- Stability Fee – Increase or decrease the floating interest rate charged to users who borrow Dai.
- Dai Savings Rate – Raise or lower the floating interest rate paid to Dai holders who deposit their Dai into the Dai Savings Rate contract.
MKR can be stored in a crypto wallet and custodian like Gemini.
The supply of Maker was initially set at 1 million MKR.
The Maker Protocol uses a portion of the Stability Fee it receives to periodically purchase MKR tokens and burn them, thereby reducing the circulating supply of MKR.
The Maker Protocol may increase the supply of MKR tokens in the event that a Dai loan has become under collateralized (due to a precipitous decrease in the value of collateral or some other black swan event). If this happens, and a subsequent Collateral Auction does not make up for the Dai shortfall, it will be converted into Protocol debt. The Maker Protocol will mint new MKR tokens via a Debt Auction and use them to purchase an amount of Dai equal to the Protocol debt. The Maker Protocol will then burn the newly purchased Dai, taking them out of circulation and ensuring that there is no longer any undercollateralized Dai outstanding. In this scenario, Maker tokens act as the ‘buyer of last resort’ for these undercollateralized loans.
When Maker tokens are issued via a Debt Auction, holders of MKR token get diluted. As a result, MKR holders are incentivized to govern responsibly by voting for changes to the Maker Protocol (e.g., risk parameters) that foster the safety and soundness of Dai and reduce the likelihood and severity of collateral shortfall events.
On March 13, 2020, a day referred to as ‘Black Thursday,’ a number of Dai loans became significantly undercollateralized. After the Maker Protocol executed Collateral Auctions, a collateral shortfall of ~5.4 million Dai remained. On March 29, 2020, the Maker Protocol minted 20,980 MKR and auctioned them for 5.3 million Dai, which were subsequently burned and taken out of circulation.
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